With Two Books and an Immersive Digital Project, Daniel Alexander Jones Expands His Black Queer Galaxy

Wednesday September 29, 2021

Daniel Alexander Jones 
Daniel Alexander Jones   

Long at the vanguard of Black Queer performance art, celebrated theater artist/playwright/songwriter Daniel Alexander Jones has announced a plethora of upcoming projects solidifying his influence as one of today's foremost voices. On the heels of winning the 2021 PEN America Laura Pels Foundation Theatre Award, Jones releases two books (53rd State Press): "Love Like Light," a landmark collection of his plays and performance texts from the last 25 years, and "Particle and Wave," a conversation with leading Black Feminist scholar Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restraints,

Jones exploded his live performance series, "Aten," into a digital universe while he was Resident Artist at CalArts Center for New Performance. Starting with a September 22nd digital album release, "Aten" features Jones and his soul sonic superstar alter-ego Jomama Jones exploring our solar system one heavenly body at a time. The interactive website Aten.life will feature music videos for each of the 15 songs along with creative prompts for visitors to use in their daily lives, and a podcast series of "Constellation Conversations" with a range of artists, scholars, and activists, discussing the core questions each celestial object contains. (Scroll below for a complete schedule of 2021 happenings.)

Hailed for his transformational and transcendental performance and writing, Jones continues to change lives with his mere presence. According to Jones, now is the time to guide ourselves with works of beauty, spirit, strength, and truth. "With increased urgency and focus, our ever-fragmented world needs communal rites of passage, and the celebration of the fullness of human capacity and agency. We are collectively made, shaped by communities of others who influence us with their gravity. I strive to create work that reminds, recenters, reignites, through artistic ritual practice, a lived experience-in-time of vulnerable presence, integral intelligence, radical imagination, and boundless creativity. I always work to get us all free."

This Fall marks the release of two of Jones's books: "Love Like Light" and its companion volume "Particle and Wave." The former is a collection of Jones's revolutionary work of the past 25 years comprising seven plays and performance texts: "Bel Canto", "Black Light," "clayangels," "Duat," "Phoenix Fabrik," "The Book of Daniel," and" Blood: Shock: Boogie." Each play is a provocation to the possibility of a more just world with love as civic practice at its center.

Jomama Jones Moon
Jomama Jones Moon  

According to award-winning American playwright Sarah Ruhl, Jones is a poet of mighty theatrical proportions. "Seeing his plays is like getting baptized. With depth and mercurial ease, Daniel's plays and performances widen the human circle and help us see each other more fully. I am so happy to be able to hold Daniel's plays in my hands in this volume. They are a true gift, particularly during this bleak moment in history. Daniel is a transmitter of light."

The companion book, "Particle and Wave," features a compelling conversation between Jones and poet, scholar, and activist Alexis Pauline Gumbs about Love Like Light and the way that love, like light, suffuses everything and is the condition and power of change in the world.

In addition to his new books and complementary author talks and panel discussions, Jones releases a new digital project this season. Inspired by the Sun's radiance and its sustaining light, "Aten" is a musical meditation on our Sun, planets, and Earth's moon.

"Each of the planetary bodies have undergone and continue to undergo changes both visible and not, yet they are still recognizably themselves," explains Jones. "So, too, we are each shaped and held by the gravity of our experiences and marked by our relationships as we move through our lives, never in the same place or time twice, but somehow, ourselves."

Originally a live performance series commissioned by The Public Theater, created with support from New York Live Arts, and produced and presented with CalArts Center for New Performance, Jones leapt into new territory and reimagined the project as a music album with 15 new original songs composed with multi-instrumentalist Josh Quat, a series of accompanying music videos directed by Jones with Nicolas Savignano, and a series of conversations with thought leaders who engage the questions each planet contains. Jones is joined on the album and in the videos by guest artists Rhonda Ross (daughter of Diana Ross) and Lady Krishna (Natasha Shulman) among others.

Upcoming Events
Oct 2 @ 12:00 p.m. EST | DAJ's Saturday Morning Book Release Party

The 53rd State Press publishing company, along with National Black Theatre, Penumbra Theater, and New Dramatists, hosts a virtual celebration of the launch of Love Like Light with readings and  conversation with Daniel Alexander Jones. Participants include Rhonda Ross, Vinie Burrows, Eisa Davis, Jason Phelps, Sarah Bellamy, Jonathan McCrory, and Omi Osun Joni L. Jones. Tickets: FREE. Watch Facebook Live at 53rd State Press's Facebook Page.

Dec 3 @ 5:00 p.m. EST | Jomama Jones's Celestial Holiday Spectacular

Location: New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street, New York City

Join Jomama Jones and friends for a celebratory in-person gathering. Along with a live musical set and some exciting games and prizes, Jones will guide everyone together to create a real-time altar in honor of the shifting of the season and the completion of a challenging year. The first 50 folks to reserve a spot will receive a voucher for a complimentary copy of the vinyl release of Aten. Tickets: On Sale Sep 22 at newyorklivearts.org.